Islamabad, April 26, 2016: National Assembly Standing Committee on Government Assurances in its meeting held today in the Parliament House commended the speedy progress of Pakistan‘s Polio Program. Committee members highly appreciated the Pakistan's Program and M/o NHSRC for tremendous turn around in Polio situation despite persistent challenges on many fronts. The Committee congratulated the Prime Minister for the personal leadership to the program and Program Management conveying expectations that the spirit should not only continue in the program but also reflected in other health initiatives.

Earlier to this, Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar apprised the committee on the latest and recent developments in the program. Discussing the accessibility issue, Minister said that successful Operation Zarb-e-Azb by Pak armed forces has enabled us to vaccinate large number of unreached children. Country has made a tremendous turn around in 2015 that is highly appreciated by all international bodies. “Pakistan is now on track to interrupt the transmission of Polio virus subsequent to interruption of virus, we shall need to maintain this status for another 3 years to achieve the eradication certificate in 2019 in accordance with the Global target’, stated Minister during her remarks.

Minister also highlighted the use of a number of new initiatives such as continuous community protected vaccination, health camps, tactical use of IPV in SIAs and introduction in Routine Immunization, bringing in system in 3rd party independent monitoring to improve the performance. Programme is now extensively focusing on vaccination of children that remain unvaccinated during campaign days for being ‘Not Available’ or ‘Refusal’. As a result of concerted efforts, 97% of the ‘recorded missed’ children were covered during Jan and Mar NIDs and the proportion of still refusals have also dropped down to 0.05% of the total targeted children.

“The progress made towards the target of interrupting Polio virus transmission is evident from more than 82% reduction in Polio cases in 2015 (306) over 2014 (54). During 2016, though we have identified eight Polio cases but in terms of point in time comparison with 2015 when we had reported 23 cases by now, we have already witnessed a decline of more than 65”, expressed Minister Saira Afzal Tarar.

The committee members were also briefed that, the M/o NHSRC has enhanced the daily incentive to the frontline workers from Rs. 250 to 400. Moreover, a top up of Rs. 250 per day from provincial resources is also being regularly encouraged.

The program has now come to a stage where the remaining gaps are being identified and addressed on real time basis. The entire Government apparatus is fully and actively supporting to interrupt the virus transmission in 2016.